Children's Monitor Online
A Public Policy Update from the Child Welfare League of America

   
   
Vol. 20, Issue 3: 1/15/2007   
Headlines

Minimum Wage Bill Moves Forward

Committees Continue to Take Shape

Catholic Charities Unveils Antipoverty Campaign

Still Time to Register and Make Your Voice Heard on Capitol Hill

CWLA Legislative Alerts Available to Subscribers

Key Upcoming Dates for Congress



Minimum Wage Bill Moves Forward

On January 10, the House of Representatives approved H.R. 2, a bill to raise the minimum wage by $2.10 over two years, from the current $5.15 per hour to $7.25. The legislation has the support of hundreds of groups, including CWLA.

Although the legislation passed the House without any additional issues or tax breaks attached, its fate in the Senate is less certain, since a bill that does not have at least 60 votes in the Senate could be stopped through a filibuster. Senate Finance Committee Democrats, led by Chair Max Baucus (D-MT) indicated their support the week for adding a number of small business tax breaks as part of the minimum wage bill. There have been strong suggestions that the only way a wage increase could pass the Senate would be if it included tax breaks for businesses.

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Committees Continue to Take Shape

The membership of various House and Senate committees and subcommittees continued to develop last week. On the House, side the Appropriations Subcommittee for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor-HHS) will be chaired by Representative David Obey (D-WI). Obey is also chair of the full Appropriations Committee. These dual roles are not new to Obey; he chaired both the Labor-HHS Subcommittee and the full House Appropriations Committee the last time Democrats were in control of the House, in 1994.

The other key Appropriations subcommittee, for the Departments of Commerce, State, and Justice, will be headed up by Representative Alan Mollohan (D-WV). In the Senate, Robert Byrd (D-WV) will chair the full Appropriations Committee and Tom Harkin (D-IA) will regain his position as Chair of the Labor-HHS Subcommittee.

Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY) is chairing the House Ways and Means Committee, with Representative Jim McCrery (R-LA) serving as ranking member. McCrery actually leapt over Representative Wally Herger (R-CA), who has more seniority, to take this ranking position.

The Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources, which tends to be the starting point for any child welfare legislation in the House, is chaired by Representative Jim McDermott (D-WA), with Representative Jerry Weller (R-IL) as ranking member. Overall, the new members to the full committee on the Democratic side include Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Joseph Crowley (D-NY) , Artur Davis (D-AL), Ron Kind (D-WI), Kendrick Meek (D-FL), Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-NJ), Allyson Schwartz (D-PA), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). The new Republicans are Devin Nunes (R-CA), Jon Porter (R-NV), and Pat Tiberi (R-OH).

Another key subcommittee is Health, within the Committee on Commerce and Energy. This subcommittee will be the starting point in the House for many of the legislative proposals on health care. The new Subcommittee Chair is Frank Pallone (D-NJ), with Representative Nathan Deal (R-GA) as ranking member.

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Catholic Charities Unveils Antipoverty Campaign

On January 10, Catholic Charities USA held a briefing on Capitol Hill to release its report, Poverty in America: A Threat to the Common Good, as well as announce its Campaign to Reduce Poverty in America. The campaign is a multiyear effort to cut poverty in the United States in half by 2020.

A major component of the campaign involves urging Congress and the Administration to place its budget and policy priorities on the needs of the poor, and to focus on issues such as nutrition, housing, health care, and economic security. The campaign calls on social service agencies, the faith community, and other advocates to encourage government officials to address poverty, which affects 37 million people. The campaign and the agenda include reforms of the child welfare system, increases in child care, preserving the Social Services Block Grant, and increasing the minimum wage.

Briefing panelists included Reverend Larry Snyder, President, Catholic Charities USA; Janet Valente Pape, Executive Director, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Wichita, Kansas; Ronald Jackson, Executive Director, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Washington, DC; Maureen Murphy, Associate Division Manager, Catholic Charities of Chicago; and Stephanie Baldwin and Vanessa Lawson, Consumers of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Trenton, New Jersey.

According to Father Snyder, "Good government is about making choices and setting priorities that serve the common good...and how to pay for it must be judged by whether the life and dignity of families are protected or undermined."

For more information, and to access the report, Poverty in America, visit Catholic Charities USA's website.

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Still Time to Register and Make Your Voice Heard on Capitol Hill

CWLA's national conference, Children 2007: Raising Our Voices for Children, will be held February 25-28. On Tuesday, February 27, CWLA will host its annual Hill Day event. This event will be especially vital in getting child welfare issues on the national agenda, since there is a new Congress in place, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) talks frequently about the importance of children.

Hill Day is an excellent opportunity to meet with members of Congress and key staff. Every year, this event brings together hundreds of participants who carry a strong message to Capitol Hill. This will be an energizing day and one of the most significant advocacy actions for child welfare in 2007.

Hill Day gives constituents the opportunity to actively promote CWLA's 2007 Legislative Agenda which will be officially released during the conference. Hill Day begins with presentations by leaders in Congress on their priorities for 2007, and briefings by the CWLA Government Affairs staff. At lunchtime, participants go to specific state and regional caucuses to discuss the issues, talking points, lobbying tips, and more general information. In the afternoon, Hill Day participants take a bus to the Capitol to meet with their Representatives and Senators and staff.

We encourage everyone attending the conference to schedule meetings with your Members of Congress for Hill Day. CWLA can provide contact information and tips on arranging visits, or you can contact your state leader. State Leaders are leaders in the field, advocates in their states, and volunteers with CWLA to lead their states' delegations to Capitol Hill. Contact your State Leader today!

As part of the annual conference, CWLA is conducting a special institute on local advocacy, "Create Change: New Strategies and Lessons Learned around Local Level Advocacy," to be held Sunday, February 25, 1:00-5:00 p.m. This institute will be dedicated to developing effective messaging and creating and testing different approaches to advocacy. Guest presenters will discuss how to craft successful local messages and initiatives based on recent analysis. Create Change will be a great opportunity for child welfare advocates to develop local level strategy and messaging.

Register for the conference online. For more information about Create Change or Hill Day, contact Cristina Fahrenthold, CWLA Government Affairs, at cfahrenthold@cwla.org or 202/942-0257.

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CWLA Legislative Alerts Available to Subscribers

CWLA's Legislative Alerts provide breaking news, advocacy information, and critically important timely details of legislative battles. In an effort to broaden CWLA's advocacy network on behalf of children, anyone can now subscribe and receive the same information. This effort compliments CWLA's weekly electronic legislative newsletter, the Children's Monitor, which is also available free to any subscriber. We encourage you to register to receive these items directly and to pass on the information to other colleagues, family, and friends.

Subscribe to Legislative Alerts.

Subscribe to Children's Monitor.

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Key Upcoming Dates for Congress

January 30: Possible Date for State of the Union Address
February 5: Release of the President's FY 2008 budget request
February 15: Continuing resolution expires
February 25-28: CWLA National Conference, Children 2007: Raising Our Voices for Children, in Washington DC.


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